Food Safety: what you need to know

Food safety is in your hands! Keep harmful bacteria from spreading throughout your kitchen and causing foodborne illness by following these simple guidelines.

Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds both before starting any food prep and after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Wash surfaces, utensils, and dishes with hot, soapy water after preparing each food.

Refrigerate raw meat, poultry, eggs, seafood or cut fruits and veggies as soon as possible after bringing home (or after they’re delivered) and within 2 hours of cooking. This helps slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Use a refrigerator thermometer to be sure your refrigerator stays below 40˚F.

Do not rinse chicken or other poultry! It is unnecessary and can spread harmful bacteria all over your kitchen. Keep marinated food in the fridge until ready to cook.

Wash fruits and vegetables under cool running water before cooking or consuming them. Do not use soap or bleach.

Cook to a safe internal temperature. Using a reliable food thermometer is the best way to know if your food is safe.

See our Final Cook-to-Temperature charts

Eat refrigerated foods within a few days or freeze them for longer storage. Thaw frozen food in the fridge or under cold, running water to speed up thawing. Never thaw frozen food at room temperature.

For more information, check out Food Safety Basics – The Core Four Practices.

Freezing & Canning Fruits & Veggies

The Basics of Freezing
Freezing is one of the easiest ways to save the flavors of the season for later! Just follow these easy steps to stock up.

  1. Wash fruits and vegetables under cool running water before prepping them
    • Do not use soap or bleach
  2. Prepare your fruits and vegetables the same way you would if you were going to use them immediately
    • For example, peel and core apples and pears, remove the pits from peaches, chop them into bite-sized pieces; berries and other small fruits can be left whole
    • Cooking or blanching vegetables prior to freezing is often recommended
  3. Spread your fruits and vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet before freezing
    • Freezing in single layer prevents clumping and makes it easier to portion what you want to thaw later
  4. Once the individual pieces are frozen, transfer them into a freezer-safe container for longer storage
    • Remove as much air as possible from the bag/container to help protect from freezer burn
    • Reminder: Thaw frozen food in the fridge or under cold, running water to speed up thawing. Never thaw frozen food at room temperature.

The Basics of Canning
Another great way to save the flavors of the season, canning goes one step beyond cooking, letting you preserve the freshest flavors for later.

  • Processing your fruits and veggies in closed glass jars at high temperatures destroys any food contaminants and prevents spoilage
  • Canning is also a great option when you have limited freezer space!

For tips and tricks on canning, check out the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning

5 Fundamentals of Safely Freezing Cooked Food

  1. Before packing and freezing your meal, let your food cool to room temperature—don’t keep it out for more than 2 hours though
  2. Leave space at the top of your container—this allows your food to expand, saving you from messy freezer overflows
  3. Label and date everything—this keeps you from guessing when that lasagna in the back of the freezer was last seen
  4. Don’t stack containers until they are frozen—this allows air to circulate around the food when it’s first placed in the freezer, helping it freeze faster
  5. Use durable freezer-safe containers or freezer bags— frozen bags stack easier and are major space-savers

For more on freezing and food safety, check out the USDA’s tips.

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